This is going to be one of my favorite audiobooks, along with Angelas Ashes and Assasination Vacation. The author wrote the book because he moved to Hartford and wanted to read about the fire, but found no book really chronicled it objectively. It isnt for the squeamish, the stories are detailed and the experiences of the victims, survivors, and rescuers are detailed, but I found it a facinating discussion of human behavior under disaster, and a good portrait of the times and the average people who lived in it. What I might be most impressed by, was the preparedness state of Hartford because of other fires, floods, and WW2, and how those plans were put into action in reaction to the circus fire. I doubt that now, even in an age of war and terrorism, that Americans would be prepared like this, and have plans and contingincy plans on all levels, including individual store owners who rushed to turn their delivery trucks into herses and ambulances at a moments notice. Not all the stories are victriolic, there are some selfish villians here, but it does show generally the self sacrificing bravery of Americans, as well as the sensationalism of the press and the bogging down of the judicial system in the aftermath. The narrator is fantastic, giving voices character but not silliness in his presentation. It is a great vocal interpretation of a facinating book.
Sarah Vowell hits the mark with this audiobook that blends history with personal reaction and historigraphy. I have enjoyed all of her books and this one is great too. . . it isnt the masterpiece Assasination Vacation was, and this audiobook is not as entertaining as that one was, but it is also more colorful and less wordy than the Wordy Shipmates. For those who sneer at the narration, half the joy of these books is listening to Vowell's dry wit and human vocality. She is not pronouncing things incorrectly, and her expression adds to the whole audiobook experience. These people would probably dislike Angela's Ashes because "they should have got a narrator without such a thick Irish accent." Sarah Vowell's naration is wonderful.
It is kind of cool to hear all of Kelly's subjects get railed on in her books, and I think this is especially true for Oprah. Everything we associate with Oprah's image is so carefully controlled now that she has become a secular saint of sorts. Kelly paints a picture of her as scemeing, decietful, self centered, self richeous, greedy and bossy. The truth probably lies somewhere between. That said, this catty scandal rag of a book is absolutely fabulous! Kelly is a fun narrator because she is so vocally sarcastic. I laughed a lot while listening, and felt like an old lady sitting in a gossip corner at a church social. Well worth the money. I havent enjoyed an audiobook this much for a good while.
I would recommend this to those who have studied Buddhism some and have a fairly good handle on some of the big concepts. This teaching is pretty dense and quick. It is also fantastic. I will have to listen to this a number of times for it to sink in. I am super glad I got it--a good value for 1 credit.
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